Peter Yazvac, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations
CLEVELAND – Sophomore Matt Malcom won the 157-pound national title to lead the third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team at the 2019 NCAA Division II Championships Saturday night in Cleveland.
The two-day meet began Friday morning and wrapped up around 9 p.m. Central on Saturday. The Lopers, with four All-Americans, tallied 71.0 points to come in fifth place, its 18th straight top eight finish at this event.
St. Cloud State placed only one in the finals but won its fourth national title in five years thanks to seven All-Americans. Their All-Americans finished between second and sixth place to help the Huskies tally 95.5 points. Wheeling Jesuit (W.V.), a program in its fifth year, was the national runner up (87.50) with McKendree of Illinois (83.0) third and Cleveland-based Notre Dame College (77.50) fourth.
Malcom was the lone Loper to win in the finals as junior Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) and sophomores Wesley Dawkins (133 lbs.) and Josh Portillo (125 lbs.) all came up a few points short. Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.) becomes UNK’s 23rd national champ with the Lopers now having 19 national runners up (NCAA D2 and NAIA).
Having one of the more dominant seasons in UNK history, Malcom went wire-to-wire, never losing his number one ranking. He finished on a 20 match win streak, went 20-1 vs. Division II competition and outscored his NCAA competition 50-7. Finally,Malcom’s 29-5 record featured six falls, seven tech falls and eight majors.
Against “Cinderella” Colin Ayers of Augustana, Malcom used three takedowns and had nearly three minutes of riding time as part of a 9-4 win. Malcom joins T.J. Hepburn (2012) and Ali Elias (1990 & 1991) as Lopers to win national titles at 150/157 lbs.
At 285 pounds, Hinrichs (Geneva) came in as the fifth seed. While he upset defending national champ Terrance Fanning of WJU in the semifinals, Kutztown’s Andrew Dunn did the same to NDC’s Kameron Teacher who was seeded number one at this weight.
The “upset” heavyweight finals was determined by a point of stalling awarded to Dunn in the first period. While the UNK coaches wanted Dunn to get dinged for the same offense over the final five minutes, he was only warned late in the third and hung on for a 2-1 win. The Virginia Tech transfer, seeded third, escaped nine seconds into the third with Hinrichs (35-8) doing the same at the start of the second.
Both Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) and Dawkins (Lincoln H.S.) had to face the top seed in their respective weight class. Neither could pull off the upset with Portillo (32-7) joining Malcom and Hinrichs as two-time All-Americans. Dawkins first year as the Loper starter at 133 pounds ends with a 27-10 record.
Lindenwood’s Carlos Jacquez wrapped up a 30-0 season at 125 pounds thanks to a 5-3 decision over Portillo. Avenging a 2018 NCAA loss to Portillo, Jacquez tallied two takedowns in the final period to erase a 1-0 deficit. The first came at the 1:31 mark and the other about a minute later when Portillo was trying to push the action.
Dawkins fell to Tyler Warner of WJU who finished up his sophomore season at 29-1. Warner won by a 4-1 score thanks to a takedown right before the first period ended. Those two big points stood up with Warner then riding Dawkins for most of the third.